Thursday, 14 August 2014

Harrold families

The original founder of Harrold Priory was Samson Fortis.  The name is associated with nearby Turvey village, rather than Harrold.  However, it is suggested by historians that Fortis was only able to grant the churches of Harrold and Brayfield to the new priory through his wife, Albreda de Blosseville.

Harrold Hall, originally Harrold Priory,
with St Peter's church: source:
Albreda was born in 1113 in Harrold and would have been around 23 years old when the grant was made.

 She would likely have inherited the lands in her own right from her father William de Blosseville (born 1080), the lord of Harrold manor.  He in turn had inherited the village from his father, Gilbert de Blosseville (b 1050), who as a young solider or knight had served with William the Conqueror and been granted the village of Harrold.

Fast forward to 1170 and in the dispute between Harrold Priory and the abbey of Arouaise, Robert de Braose solemnly declares that he had inherited Harrold church and had granted it to Arrouaise.  Robert's mother was Albreda de Blosseville.  Is it possible, then, that Samson Fortis (or Samson le Fort) had died, and his young widow had married Payn de Braose (b 1112)?  Their son then inherited the manor of Harrold through his mother, which he then confirmed on the burgeoning priory of Harrold?

Robert was born in Bradwell, which is now a district of Milton Keynes in 1140.  This would suggest that Samson's decision to endow the new priory of Harrold in 1136 may have been one of his last, and that he died shortly after.  Such an endowment close to death would have represented, to him at least, a sound investment in his afterlife.

The de Braose family connection was maintained with Harrold in later generations, though.  Robert's daughter, also called Albreda, married Ralph de Morin from Harrold.  The income from St Peter's in Harrold and from Brayfield was by this time confirmed on Harrold Priory.


The Cartulary of Missenden Abbey
Thompson, Sally (1991), Women religious: The founding of English nunneries after the Norman Conquest, Oxford: Clarendon Press
The Domesday Book entry for Harrold
Venarde, Bruce L. (1997), Women's monasticism and medieval society: nunneries in France and England, 890-1215, Ithaca: Cornell University Press

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